Spatio-Temporal Modeling Core Publications

2019
B Kocev, Horst K Hahn, L Linsend, William III M Wells, and Ron Kikinis. 3/2019. “Uncertainty-aware Asynchronous Scattered Motion Interpolation using Gaussian Process Regression.” Computerized Medical Imaging and Graphics, 72, Pp. 1-12.Abstract
We address the problem of interpolating randomly non-uniformly spatiotemporally scattered uncertain motion measurements, which arises in the context of soft tissue motion estimation. Soft tissue motion estimation is of great interest in the field of image-guided soft-tissue intervention and surgery navigation, because it enables the registration of pre-interventional/pre-operative navigation information on deformable soft-tissue organs. To formally define the measurements as spatiotemporally scattered motion signal samples, we propose a novel motion field representation. To perform the interpolation of the motion measurements in an uncertainty-aware optimal unbiased fashion, we devise a novel Gaussian process (GP) regression model with a non-constant-mean prior and an anisotropic covariance function and show through an extensive evaluation that it outperforms the state-of-the-art GP models that have been deployed previously for similar tasks. The employment of GP regression enables the quantification of uncertainty in the interpolation result, which would allow the amount of uncertainty present in the registered navigation information governing the decisions of the surgeon or intervention specialist to be conveyed.
2018
Jie Luo, Sarah Frisken, Ines Machado, Miaomiao Zhang, Steve Pieper, Polina Golland, Matthew Toews, Prashin Unadkat, Alireza Sedghi, Haoyin Zhou, Alireza Mehrtash, Frank Preiswerk, Cheng-Chieh Cheng, Alexandra Golby, Masashi Sugiyama, and William M Wells. 12/2018. “Using the Variogram for Vector Outlier Screening: Application to Feature-based Image Registration.” Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg, 13, 12, Pp. 1871-80.Abstract
PURPOSE: Matching points that are derived from features or landmarks in image data is a key step in some medical imaging applications. Since most robust point matching algorithms claim to be able to deal with outliers, users may place high confidence in the matching result and use it without further examination. However, for tasks such as feature-based registration in image-guided neurosurgery, even a few mismatches, in the form of invalid displacement vectors, could cause serious consequences. As a result, having an effective tool by which operators can manually screen all matches for outliers could substantially benefit the outcome of those applications. METHODS: We introduce a novel variogram-based outlier screening method for vectors. The variogram is a powerful geostatistical tool for characterizing the spatial dependence of stochastic processes. Since the spatial correlation of invalid displacement vectors, which are considered as vector outliers, tends to behave differently than normal displacement vectors, they can be efficiently identified on the variogram. RESULTS: We validate the proposed method on 9 sets of clinically acquired ultrasound data. In the experiment, potential outliers are flagged on the variogram by one operator and further evaluated by 8 experienced medical imaging researchers. The matching quality of those potential outliers is approximately 1.5 lower, on a scale from 1 (bad) to 5 (good), than valid displacement vectors. CONCLUSION: The variogram is a simple yet informative tool. While being used extensively in geostatistical analysis, it has not received enough attention in the medical imaging field. We believe there is a good deal of potential for clinically applying the proposed outlier screening method. By way of this paper, we also expect researchers to find variogram useful in other medical applications that involve motion vectors analyses.
Inês Machado, Matthew Toews, Jie Luo, Prashin Unadkat, Walid Essayed, Elizabeth George, Pedro Teodoro, Herculano Carvalho, Jorge Martins, Polina Golland, Steve Pieper, Sarah Frisken, Alexandra Golby, and William Wells. 10/2018. “Non-rigid Registration of 3D Ultrasound for Neurosurgery using Automatic Feature Detection and Matching.” Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg, 13, 10, Pp. 1525-38.Abstract
PURPOSE: The brain undergoes significant structural change over the course of neurosurgery, including highly nonlinear deformation and resection. It can be informative to recover the spatial mapping between structures identified in preoperative surgical planning and the intraoperative state of the brain. We present a novel feature-based method for achieving robust, fully automatic deformable registration of intraoperative neurosurgical ultrasound images. METHODS: A sparse set of local image feature correspondences is first estimated between ultrasound image pairs, after which rigid, affine and thin-plate spline models are used to estimate dense mappings throughout the image. Correspondences are derived from 3D features, distinctive generic image patterns that are automatically extracted from 3D ultrasound images and characterized in terms of their geometry (i.e., location, scale, and orientation) and a descriptor of local image appearance. Feature correspondences between ultrasound images are achieved based on a nearest-neighbor descriptor matching and probabilistic voting model similar to the Hough transform. RESULTS: Experiments demonstrate our method on intraoperative ultrasound images acquired before and after opening of the dura mater, during resection and after resection in nine clinical cases. A total of 1620 automatically extracted 3D feature correspondences were manually validated by eleven experts and used to guide the registration. Then, using manually labeled corresponding landmarks in the pre- and post-resection ultrasound images, we show that our feature-based registration reduces the mean target registration error from an initial value of 3.3 to 1.5 mm. CONCLUSIONS: This result demonstrates that the 3D features promise to offer a robust and accurate solution for 3D ultrasound registration and to correct for brain shift in image-guided neurosurgery.
Guillermo Gallardo, William M Wells III, Rachid Deriche, and Demian Wassermann. 4/2018. “Groupwise Structural Parcellation of the Whole Cortex: A Logistic Random Effects Model Based Approach.” Neuroimage, 170, Pp. 307-20.Abstract

Current theories hold that brain function is highly related to long-range physical connections through axonal bundles, namely extrinsic connectivity. However, obtaining a groupwise cortical parcellation based on extrinsic connectivity remains challenging. Current parcellation methods are computationally expensive; need tuning of several parameters or rely on ad-hoc constraints. Furthermore, none of these methods present a model for the cortical extrinsic connectivity of the cortex. To tackle these problems, we propose a parsimonious model for the extrinsic connectivity and an efficient parceling technique based on clustering of tractograms. Our technique allows the creation of single subject and groupwise parcellations of the whole cortex. The parcellations obtained with our technique are in agreement with structural and functional parcellations in the literature. In particular, the motor and sensory cortex are subdivided in agreement with the human homunculus of Penfield. We illustrate this by comparing our resulting parcels with the motor strip mapping included in the Human Connectome Project data.

Matthew Toews and William M Wells. 1/2018. “Phantomless Auto-Calibration and Online Calibration Assessment for a Tracked Freehand 2-D Ultrasound Probe.” IEEE Trans Med Imaging, 37, 1, Pp. 262-72.Abstract
This paper presents a method for automatically calibrating and assessing the calibration quality of an externally tracked 2-D ultrasound (US) probe by scanning arbitrary, natural tissues, as opposed a specialized calibration phantom as is the typical practice. A generative topic model quantifies the posterior probability of calibration parameters conditioned on local 2-D image features arising from a generic underlying substrate. Auto-calibration is achieved by identifying the maximum a-posteriori image-to-probe transform, and calibration quality is assessed online in terms of the posterior probability of the current image-to-probe transform. Both are closely linked to the 3-D point reconstruction error (PRE) in aligning feature observations arising from the same underlying physical structure in different US images. The method is of practical importance in that it operates simply by scanning arbitrary textured echogenic structures, e.g., in-vivo tissues in the context of the US-guided procedures, without requiring specialized calibration procedures or equipment. Observed data take the form of local scale-invariant features that can be extracted and fit to the model in near real-time. Experiments demonstrate the method on a public data set of in vivo human brain scans of 14 unique subjects acquired in the context of neurosurgery. Online calibration assessment can be performed at approximately 3 Hz for the US images of pixels. Auto-calibration achieves an internal mean PRE of 1.2 mm and a discrepancy of [2 mm, 6 mm] in comparison to the calibration via a standard phantom-based method.
2017
Anna Custo, Dimitri Van De Ville, William M Wells, Miralena I Tomescu, Denis Brunet, and Christoph M Michel. 12/2017. “Electroencephalographic Resting-State Networks: Source Localization of Microstates.” Brain Connect, 7, 10, Pp. 671-82.Abstract
Using electroencephalography (EEG) to elucidate the spontaneous activation of brain resting-state networks (RSNs) is nontrivial as the signal of interest is of low amplitude and it is difficult to distinguish the underlying neural sources. Using the principles of electric field topographical analysis, it is possible to estimate the meta-stable states of the brain (i.e., the resting-state topographies, so-called microstates). We estimated seven resting-state topographies explaining the EEG data set with k-means clustering (N = 164, 256 electrodes). Using a method specifically designed to localize the sources of broadband EEG scalp topographies by matching sensor and source space temporal patterns, we demonstrated that we can estimate the EEG RSNs reliably by measuring the reproducibility of our findings. After subtracting their mean from the seven EEG RSNs, we identified seven state-specific networks. The mean map includes regions known to be densely anatomically and functionally connected (superior frontal, superior parietal, insula, and anterior cingulate cortices). While the mean map can be interpreted as a "router," crosslinking multiple functional networks, the seven state-specific RSNs partly resemble and extend previous functional magnetic resonance imaging-based networks estimated as the hemodynamic correlates of four canonical EEG microstates.
Miaomiao Zhang, William M Wells, and Polina Golland. 10/2017. “Probabilistic Modeling of Anatomical Variability using a Low Dimensional Parameterization of Diffeomorphisms.” Med Image Anal, 41, Pp. 55-62.Abstract
We present an efficient probabilistic model of anatomical variability in a linear space of initial velocities of diffeomorphic transformations and demonstrate its benefits in clinical studies of brain anatomy. To overcome the computational challenges of the high dimensional deformation-based descriptors, we develop a latent variable model for principal geodesic analysis (PGA) based on a low dimensional shape descriptor that effectively captures the intrinsic variability in a population. We define a novel shape prior that explicitly represents principal modes as a multivariate complex Gaussian distribution on the initial velocities in a bandlimited space. We demonstrate the performance of our model on a set of 3D brain MRI scans from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) database. Our model yields a more compact representation of group variation at substantially lower computational cost than the state-of-the-art method such as tangent space PCA (TPCA) and probabilistic principal geodesic analysis (PPGA) that operate in the high dimensional image space.
Marc Niethammer, Kilian M Pohl, Firdaus Janoos, and William M Wells. 9/2017. “Active Mean Fields for Probabilistic Image Segmentation: Connections with Chan-Vese and Rudin-Osher-Fatemi Models.” SIAM J. Imaging Sci., 10, 3, Pp. 1069-1103.Abstract
Segmentation is a fundamental task for extracting semantically meaningful regions from an image. The goal of segmentation algorithms is to accurately assign object labels to each image location. However, image noise, shortcomings of algorithms, and image ambiguities cause uncertainty in label assignment. Estimating this uncertainty is important in multiple application domains, such as segmenting tumors from medical images for radiation treatment planning. One way to estimate these uncertainties is through the computation of posteriors of Bayesian models, which is computationally prohibitive for many practical applications. However, most computationally efficient methods fail to estimate label uncertainty. We therefore propose in this paper the active mean fields (AMF) approach, a technique based on Bayesian modeling that uses a mean-field approximation to efficiently compute a segmentation and its corresponding uncertainty. Based on a variational formulation, the resulting convex model combines any label-likelihood measure with a prior on the length of the segmentation boundary. A specific implementation of that model is the Chan-Vese segmentation model, in which the binary segmentation task is defined by a Gaussian likelihood and a prior regularizing the length of the segmentation boundary. Furthermore, the Euler-Lagrange equations derived from the AMF model are equivalent to those of the popular Rudin-Osher-Fatemi (ROF) model for image denoising. Solutions to the AMF model can thus be implemented by directly utilizing highly efficient ROF solvers on log-likelihood ratio fields. We qualitatively assess the approach on synthetic data as well as on real natural and medical images. For a quantitative evaluation, we apply our approach to the tt icgbench dataset.
Jenna Schabdach, William M Wells, Michael Cho, and Kayhan N Batmanghelich. 6/2017. “A Likelihood-Free Approach for Characterizing Heterogeneous Diseases in Large-Scale Studies.” Inf Process Med Imaging, 10265, Pp. 170-183.Abstract
We propose a non-parametric approach for characterizing heterogeneous diseases in large-scale studies. We target diseases where multiple types of pathology present simultaneously in each subject and a more severe disease manifests as a higher level of tissue destruction. For each subject, we model theof local image descriptors as samples generated by an unknown subject-specific probability density. Instead of approximating the probability density via a parametric family, we propose to side step the parametric inference by directly estimating the divergence between subject densities. Our method maps the collection of local image descriptors to a signaturethat is used to predict a clinical measurement. We are able to interpret the prediction of the clinical variable in the population and individual levels by carefully studying the divergences. We illustrate an application this method on simulated data as well as on a large-scale lung CT study of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Our approach outperforms classical methods on both simulated and COPD data and demonstrates the state-of-the-art prediction on an important physiologic measure of airflow (the forced respiratory volume in one second, FEV1).
2016
Lauren J O'Donnell, Yannick Suter, Laura Rigolo, Pegah Kahali, Fan Zhang, Isaiah Norton, Angela Albi, Olutayo Olubiyi, Antonio Meola, Walid I Essayed, Prashin Unadkat, Pelin Aksit Ciris, William M Wells III, Yogesh Rathi, Carl-Fredrik Westin, and Alexandra J Golby. 11/2016. “Automated White Matter Fiber Tract Identification in Patients with Brain Tumors.” Neuroimage Clin, 13, Pp. 138-53.Abstract

We propose a method for the automated identification of key white matter fiber tracts for neurosurgical planning, and we apply the method in a retrospective study of 18 consecutive neurosurgical patients with brain tumors. Our method is designed to be relatively robust to challenges in neurosurgical tractography, which include peritumoral edema, displacement, and mass effect caused by mass lesions. The proposed method has two parts. First, we learn a data-driven white matter parcellation or fiber cluster atlas using groupwise registration and spectral clustering of multi-fiber tractography from healthy controls. Key fiber tract clusters are identified in the atlas. Next, patient-specific fiber tracts are automatically identified using tractography-based registration to the atlas and spectral embedding of patient tractography. Results indicate good generalization of the data-driven atlas to patients: 80% of the 800 fiber clusters were identified in all 18 patients, and 94% of the 800 fiber clusters were found in 16 or more of the 18 patients. Automated subject-specific tract identification was evaluated by quantitative comparison to subject-specific motor and language functional MRI, focusing on the arcuate fasciculus (language) and corticospinal tracts (motor), which were identified in all patients. Results indicate good colocalization: 89 of 95, or 94%, of patient-specific language and motor activations were intersected by the corresponding identified tract. All patient-specific activations were within 3mm of the corresponding language or motor tract. Overall, our results indicate the potential of an automated method for identifying fiber tracts of interest for neurosurgical planning, even in patients with mass lesions.

Miaomiao Zhang, William M Wells, and Polina Golland. 10/2016. “Low-Dimensional Statistics of Anatomical Variability via Compact Representation of Image Deformations.” Med Image Comput Comput Assist Interv, 9902, Pp. 166-73.Abstract
Using image-based descriptors to investigate clinical hypotheses and therapeutic implications is challenging due to the notorious "curse of dimensionality" coupled with a small sample size. In this paper, we present a low-dimensional analysis of anatomical shape variability in the space of diffeomorphisms and demonstrate its benefits for clinical studies. To combat the high dimensionality of the deformation descriptors, we develop a probabilistic model of principal geodesic analysis in a bandlimited low-dimensional space that still captures the underlying variability of image data. We demonstrate the performance of our model on a set of 3D brain MRI scans from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) database. Our model yields a more compact representation of group variation at substantially lower computational cost than models based on the high-dimensional state-of-the-art approaches such as tangent space PCA (TPCA) and probabilistic principal geodesic analysis (PPGA).
Padmavathi Sundaram, Aapo Nummenmaa, William M Wells III, Darren Orbach, Daniel Orringer, Robert Mulkern, and Yoshio Okada. 5/2016. “Direct Neural Current Imaging in an Intact Cerebellum with Magnetic Resonance Imaging.” Neuroimage, 132, Pp. 477-90.Abstract

The ability to detect neuronal currents with high spatiotemporal resolution using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is important for studying human brain function in both health and disease. While significant progress has been made, we still lack evidence showing that it is possible to measure an MR signal time-locked to neuronal currents with a temporal waveform matching concurrently recorded local field potentials (LFPs). Also lacking is evidence that such MR data can be used to image current distribution in active tissue. Since these two results are lacking even in vitro, we obtained these data in an intact isolated whole cerebellum of turtle during slow neuronal activity mediated by metabotropic glutamate receptors using a gradient-echo EPI sequence (TR=100ms) at 4.7T. Our results show that it is possible (1) to reliably detect an MR phase shift time course matching that of the concurrently measured LFP evoked by stimulation of a cerebellar peduncle, (2) to detect the signal in single voxels of 0.1mm3, (3) to determine the spatial phase map matching the magnetic field distribution predicted by the LFP map, (4) to estimate the distribution of neuronal current in the active tissue from a group-average phase map, and (5) to provide a quantitatively accurate theoretical account of the measured phase shifts. The peak values of the detected MR phase shifts were 0.27-0.37°, corresponding to local magnetic field changes of 0.67-0.93nT (for TE=26ms). Our work provides an empirical basis for future extensions to in vivo imaging of neuronal currents.

Matthew Toews and William M Wells III. 4/2016. “Invariant Feature-Based Analysis of Medical Images: An Overview.” In IEEE Int Symp Biomed Imaging.
Jørn Bersvendsen, Matthew Toews, Adriyana Danudibroto, William M Wells III, Stig Urheim, Raúl San José Estépar, and Eigil Samset. 2/2016. “Robust Spatio-Temporal Registration of 4D Cardiac Ultrasound Sequences.” Proc SPIE Int Soc Opt Eng, 9790.Abstract

Registration of multiple 3D ultrasound sectors in order to provide an extended field of view is important for the appreciation of larger anatomical structures at high spatial and temporal resolution. In this paper, we present a method for fully automatic spatio-temporal registration between two partially overlapping 3D ultrasound sequences. The temporal alignment is solved by aligning the normalized cross correlation-over-time curves of the sequences. For the spatial alignment, corresponding 3D Scale Invariant Feature Transform (SIFT) features are extracted from all frames of both sequences independently of the temporal alignment. A rigid transform is then calculated by least squares minimization in combination with random sample consensus. The method is applied to 16 echocardiographic sequences of the left and right ventricles and evaluated against manually annotated temporal events and spatial anatomical landmarks. The mean distances between manually identified landmarks in the left and right ventricles after automatic registration were (mean ± SD) 4.3 ± 1.2 mm compared to a reference error of 2.8 ± 0.6 mm with manual registration. For the temporal alignment, the absolute errors in valvular event times were 14.4 ± 11.6 ms for Aortic Valve (AV) opening, 18.6 ± 16.0 ms for AV closing, and 34.6 ± 26.4 ms for mitral valve opening, compared to a mean inter-frame time of 29 ms.

2015
Tassilo Klein and William M Wells III. 10/2015. “RF Ultrasound Distribution-Based Confidence Maps.” Int Conf Med Image Comput Comput Assist Interv. 18 (Pt2), Pp. 595-602.Abstract
Ultrasound is becoming an ever increasingly important modality in medical care. However, underlying physical acquisition principles are prone to image artifacts and result in overall quality variation. Therefore processing medical ultrasound data remains a challenging task. We propose a novel distribution-based measure of assessing the confidence in the signal, which emphasizes uncertainty in attenuated as well as shadow regions. In contrast to the similar recently proposed method that relies on image intensities, the new approach makes use of the enveloped-detected radio-frequency data, facilitating the use of Nakagami speckle statistics. Employing J-divergence as distance measure for the random-walk based algorithm, provides a natural measure of similarity, yielding a more reliable estimate of confidence. For evaluation of the model’s performance, tests are conducted on the application of shadow detection. Additionally, computed maps are presented for different organs such as neck, liver and prostate, showcasing the properties of the model. The probabilistic approach is shown to have beneficial features for image processing tasks.
 
Klein MICCAI 2015
Matthew Toews, Christian Wachinger, Raul San Jose Estepar, and William M Wells III. 6/2015. “A Feature-Based Approach to Big Data Analysis of Medical Images.” Inf Process Med Imaging, 24, Pp. 339-50.Abstract

This paper proposes an inference method well-suited to large sets of medical images. The method is based upon a framework where distinctive 3D scale-invariant features are indexed efficiently to identify approximate nearest-neighbor (NN) feature matches-in O (log N) computational complexity in the number of images N. It thus scales well to large data sets, in contrast to methods based on pair-wise image registration or feature matching requiring O(N) complexity. Our theoretical contribution is a density estimator based on a generative model that generalizes kernel density estimation and K-nearest neighbor (KNN) methods.. The estimator can be used for on-the-fly queries, without requiring explicit parametric models or an off-line training phase. The method is validated on a large multi-site data set of 95,000,000 features extracted from 19,000 lung CT scans. Subject-level classification identifies all images of the same subjects across the entire data set despite deformation due to breathing state, including unintentional duplicate scans. State-of-the-art performance is achieved in predicting chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder (COPD) severity across the 5-category GOLD clinical rating, with an accuracy of 89% if both exact and one-off predictions are considered correct.

Christian Wachinger, Matthew Toews, Georg Langs, William M Wells III, and Polina Golland. 6/2015. “Keypoint Transfer Segmentation.” Inf Process Med Imaging, 24, Pp. 233-45.Abstract

We present an image segmentation method that transfers label maps of entire organs from the training images to the novel image to be segmented. The transfer is based on sparse correspondences between keypoints that represent automatically identified distinctive image locations. Our segmentation algorithm consists of three steps: (i) keypoint matching, (ii) voting-based keypoint labeling, and (iii) keypoint-based probabilistic transfer of organ label maps. We introduce generative models for the inference of keypoint labels and for image segmentation, where keypoint matches are treated as a latent random variable and are marginalized out as part of the algorithm. We report segmentation results for abdominal organs in whole-body CT and in contrast-enhanced CT images. The accuracy of our method compares favorably to common multi-atlas segmentation while offering a speed-up of about three orders of magnitude. Furthermore, keypoint transfer requires no training phase or registration to an atlas. The algorithm's robustness enables the segmentation of scans with highly variable field-of-view.

Clare B Poynton, Mark Jenkinson, Elfar Adalsteinsson, Edith V Sullivan, Adolf Pfefferbaum, and William M Wells III. 1/2015. “Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping by Inversion of a Perturbation Field Model: Correlation with Brain Iron in Normal Aging.” IEEE Trans Med Imaging, 34, 1, Pp. 339-53.Abstract

There is increasing evidence that iron deposition occurs in specific regions of the brain in normal aging and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's, Huntington's, and Alzheimer's disease. Iron deposition changes the magnetic susceptibility of tissue, which alters the MR signal phase, and allows estimation of susceptibility differences using quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM). We present a method for quantifying susceptibility by inversion of a perturbation model, or "QSIP." The perturbation model relates phase to susceptibility using a kernel calculated in the spatial domain, in contrast to previous Fourier-based techniques. A tissue/air susceptibility atlas is used to estimate B0 inhomogeneity. QSIP estimates in young and elderly subjects are compared to postmortem iron estimates, maps of the Field-Dependent Relaxation Rate Increase, and the L1-QSM method. Results for both groups showed excellent agreement with published postmortem data and in vivo FDRI: statistically significant Spearman correlations ranging from Rho=0.905 to Rho=1.00 were obtained. QSIP also showed improvement over FDRI and L1-QSM: reduced variance in susceptibility estimates and statistically significant group differences were detected in striatal and brainstem nuclei, consistent with age-dependent iron accumulation in these regions.

Sonia Pujol, William M Wells III, Carlo Pierpaoli, Caroline Brun, James Gee, Guang Cheng, Baba Vemuri, Olivier Commowick, Sylvain Prima, Aymeric Stamm, Maged Goubran, Ali Khan, Terry Peters, Peter Neher, Klaus H Maier-Hein, Yundi Shi, Antonio Tristan-Vega, Gopalkrishna Veni, Ross Whitaker, Martin Styner, Carl-Fredrik Westin, Sylvain Gouttard, Isaiah Norton, Laurent Chauvin, Hatsuho Mamata, Guido Gerig, Arya Nabavi, Alexandra Golby, and Ron Kikinis. 2015. “The DTI Challenge: Toward Standardized Evaluation of Diffusion Tensor Imaging Tractography for Neurosurgery.” J Neuroimaging, 25, 6, Pp. 875-82.Abstract
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography reconstruction of white matter pathways can help guide brain tumor resection. However, DTI tracts are complex mathematical objects and the validity of tractography-derived information in clinical settings has yet to be fully established. To address this issue, we initiated the DTI Challenge, an international working group of clinicians and scientists whose goal was to provide standardized evaluation of tractography methods for neurosurgery. The purpose of this empirical study was to evaluate different tractography techniques in the first DTI Challenge workshop. METHODS: Eight international teams from leading institutions reconstructed the pyramidal tract in four neurosurgical cases presenting with a glioma near the motor cortex. Tractography methods included deterministic, probabilistic, filtered, and global approaches. Standardized evaluation of the tracts consisted in the qualitative review of the pyramidal pathways by a panel of neurosurgeons and DTI experts and the quantitative evaluation of the degree of agreement among methods. RESULTS: The evaluation of tractography reconstructions showed a great interalgorithm variability. Although most methods found projections of the pyramidal tract from the medial portion of the motor strip, only a few algorithms could trace the lateral projections from the hand, face, and tongue area. In addition, the structure of disagreement among methods was similar across hemispheres despite the anatomical distortions caused by pathological tissues. CONCLUSIONS: The DTI Challenge provides a benchmark for the standardized evaluation of tractography methods on neurosurgical data. This study suggests that there are still limitations to the clinical use of tractography for neurosurgical decision making.
Sarah Parisot, Salim Arslan, Jonathan Passerat-Palmbach, William M Wells III, and Daniel Rueckert. 2015. “Tractography-Driven Groupwise Multi-scale Parcellation of the Cortex.” Inf Process Med Imaging, 24, Pp. 600-12.Abstract

The analysis of the connectome of the human brain provides key insight into the brain's organisation and function, and its evolution in disease or ageing. Parcellation of the cortical surface into distinct regions in terms of structural connectivity is an essential step that can enable such analysis. The estimation of a stable connectome across a population of healthy subjects requires the estimation of a groupwise parcellation that can capture the variability of the connectome across the population. This problem has solely been addressed in the literature via averaging of connectivity profiles or finding correspondences between individual parcellations a posteriori. In this paper, we propose a groupwise parcellation method of the cortex based on diffusion MR images (dMRI). We borrow ideas from the area of cosegmentation in computer vision and directly estimate a consistent parcellation across different subjects and scales through a spectral clustering approach. The parcellation is driven by the tractography connectivity profiles, and information between subjects and across scales. Promising qualitative and quantitative results on a sizeable data-set demonstrate the strong potential of the method.

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